One of the great features of Dublin is the abundance of parks, estate gardens and wildlife on the city’s doorstep. One does not have to look too far to find some greenery to stroll the dog, kick a ball or feed the ducks. There is an array of parks to choose from all offering different elements, see the deer and play some polo in the Phoenix Park, or shoot some hoops in Bushy Park like Justin Bieber.
A setting that thrives on community spirit and that offers a selection of activities for all the family is Marley Park in Rathfarnham. The back gardens of the historic 18th century Marlay House provide a 247-acre park consisting of a playground, a par-3 golf course, a model railway, running and walking trails and various sports facilities including tennis courts, football pitches and a cricket ground. With sections allowed for dogs to roam free and also a walled garden bulging with flowers and birds.
Apart from all the natural amenities on display throughout the park, every weekend the craft courtyard comes alive with the Marlay Markets. From locally sourced food to paintings and from books to children’s crafts there is something for everyone while taking in your leisurely stroll.
Brendan Foreman of The Village Bookshop has been setting up a stall at the Marlay Markets “for around 20 years now” and finds it a great way to do business. “We have been coming here for around 20 years now and only in the last 5 years opened a shop, as we had it for storage we said we might as well open it up to customers.” The stall boasts an eclectic mix of new, used and out of print books for all tastes, with some unique and specialists titles mixed in amongst the selection.
With bookshops in decline, I asked Brendan Foreman were the markets a good place to do business “They can be great, because of doing the markets we got asked to do Electric Picnic and have done that for four years were also going to be selling at a festival in Waterford this year.” It took me by surprise that partiers at Electric Picnic would be in the humour for reading but he tells me “We sold a lot of kids books as there are quite a few families there” As the clouds started to change tone in the sky above rain started off as a slight drizzle but quickly turned into hailstones, a sharp change from the spring afternoon 10 minutes previously. With a business made upon paper products I asked Brendan Foreman how they cope with the Irish weather he says “We’re like farmers obsessed with the weather”.
As you drift through the smells of homemade sausages frying and smoothies being blended you arrive at a very colourful crafted stall belonging to Laura Duggan of Pixie & Fleur selling handcrafted toys for children. There are stools, alphabet jigsaws, name trains and more, Laura Duggan has been coming to Marlay Markets since 2012 and says it is “up and down for business, the website is better but she uses the markets as a collection point for people who have ordered online.”As much as online sales are the way of the world now setting up shop in the most traditional of ways still has its advantages. With the business offering personalised engraving to the products “people put their engraving orders in one week and then collect it here the following week.” As families are the main groups of people walking through the gates of the park this intriguing stall is definitely an eye catcher for those walking by.
Another eye-catching glimmer that sits in the middle of the courtyard is the apples on the Goode Seasonal Produce stall. Likewise to Pixie & Fluer the sellers of fruit, vegetable, jams and preserves have been coming here since 2012. When asked about the products on sale “The apples from Tipperary are by far our biggest sellers, the jams and the honey are from North County Dublin” With the afternoon changing for the worst with no signs of the rain easing off I asked about the weather trials for an outdoor seller “rain, hail or high water I’ll be here”.
With the water falling from weatherproof tarps a stall that is full of water-based products and canvases is Carol Callaghan’s art display. Detailed artworks from Dún Laoghaire to Dingle Carol Callaghan who has been coming to the market for 15 years says “The market has been very lucrative to me, people who leave Ireland are big buyers or parents sending the pieces to their children abroad as there is nothing like a painting to remind them of home.”
With a stunning collection of paintings there is no doubt that Carol Callaghan’s place in the market will last another 15 years. When asked about the future of market selling and business growth she says “I have seen many people coming in and just lasting one season you can’t be any ‘Mickey Mouse’ artist you need to have talent.”
Talent is truly on show around the park and the weather can’t hold true talent down. As the market starts to wind down the apple basket is dwindling in size, the books are getting covered and children’s stools are being stacked. If you are a lone walker, a dog walker or not a walker at all just looking for an enjoyable way to pass the afternoon Marlay’s Market is a fun, free, relaxing afternoon.
While the park itself is open daily if it’s the markets you want to check out their on from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays and 11 am to 4 pm on Sundays, for more information please follow the link.